January 14th, 2015 3:01 PM

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September 16th, 2014 1:28 PM

Survey: Consumer views on home buying


DES MOINES, Iowa – Sept. 15, 2014 – More than two-thirds of Americans (68 percent) feel that it's a good time to buy a home – but many won't try because they think tighter mortgage rules have made them ineligible for a loan.

After the recession ended, the U.S. tightened lending rules to keep a similar meltdown from happening again. But stories about tighter requirements have led some creditworthy buyers to think they cannot get a loan, according to the "How America Views Homeownership" survey by Ipsos Public Affairs for Wells Fargo & Company.

"Our survey found Americans still view homeownership as an achievement to be proud of," says Franklin Codel, head of Wells Fargo Home Mortgage Production.

But "our survey also suggests we have an opportunity as lenders, nonprofit agencies and real estate agents to better inform Americans about credit ratings, mortgage costs and housing affordability," he adds.

Financial foundation

The "How America Views Homeownership" nationwide survey of 2,017 adults also revealed many Americans report that their financial houses are in order, which improves their ability to buy a home. For example:

  • 82 percent of respondents said that they understand how to manage their personal finances; the same proportion, 82 percent, agreed that they generally do not spend beyond their means
  • 63 percent of respondents have a "rainy day fund," including more than half of the millennial respondents, ages 18-34
  • 27 percent said that they tend to spend their money and not think twice about it

Home buying: What consumers know

  • 74 percent of the survey respondents "know and understand" the financial process of buying a home, but other answers suggest they may not understand all their options.
  • 30 percent believe only individuals with high incomes can obtain a mortgage.
  • 64 percent believe they must have a "very good" credit score to buy a home.
  • While 64 percent said that they're knowledgeable about downpayments; nearly half (44 percent) think they need a 20 percent downpayment.
  • When asked to list the biggest barriers to homeownership, a lack of downpayment funds ranked first, especially for respondents aged 18-34.
  • Nearly half (44 percent) know nothing or very little about the closing costs required.
  • About half feel they don't have access to homes that fit their financial needs.

"It's important for prospective homebuyers … to ask lenders and real estate agents questions about available options, such as downpayment assistance or FHA loan programs or VA loans for veterans," says Codel. "Ninety-five percent of survey respondents said they want to own a home if they don't already."

© 2014 Florida Realtors®

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March 11th, 2014 8:50 AM
Fannie Mae: Housing recovery “expected to press on” WASHINGTON – March 10, 2014 – Americans’ outlook on housing and the economy has fluctuated somewhat during the past few months, but the trend for most indicators remains positive overall, according to Fannie Mae’s February 2014 National Housing Survey results. Notably, respondents’ home price expectations climbed significantly in February: 50 percent saying home prices will go up in the next year – following a measurable downturn in January – while the share of those who believe it is a good time to buy a home ticked up by 3 percentage points. At the same time, those who believe that it would be easy to get a mortgage dropped 7 percentage points from January’s all-time survey high of 52 percent. Additionally, the share of respondents who say the economy is on the wrong track increased 3 percentage points to 57 percent in February, following a four-month decline. Despite a decrease in optimism across some of the indicators last month, consumer attitudes remain in generally positive ranges. “We’ve seen a corresponding increase in volatility in our survey results, particularly for home price expectations and perceptions about the ease of getting a mortgage,” says Doug Duncan, senior vice president and chief economist at Fannie Mae. “Weather may have played a role, as suggested by a 6 percentage point jump over the past two months in the share of consumers who say their household expenses are significantly higher than a year ago. This response would be consistent with higher home heating costs. “Despite the volatile month-to-month changes, we believe that the housing recovery is continuing, but is not yet robust,” Duncan adds. Homeownership and renting • Month-to-month, the average 12-month home price change expectation increased to 3.2 percent. • The share of people who say home prices will go up in the next 12 months increased 7 percentage points to 50 percent, while the share who say home prices will stay the same decreased by seven percentage points to 38 percent. • The share of respondents who say mortgage rates will go up in the next 12 months increased by 1 percentage point, to 56 percent. • Those who say it’s a good time to buy a house increased from last month, up 3 percentage points to 68 percent. • The average 12-month rental price change expectation increased from last month to 4.3 percent. • 51 percent of those surveyed said home rental prices would rise in the next 12 months, an increase of 3 percentage points from last month. • 45 percent of respondents thought it would be easy for them to get a home mortgage today, a 7-percentage point decrease from last month. • The respondents who say they would buy if they were going to move fell 4 percentage points to 66 percent, and those who say they would rent increased to 30 percent. The economy and household finances • The share of respondents who say the economy is on the right track decreased 4 percentage points from last month to 35 percent. • The percentage of respondents who expect their personal financial situation to get better in the next 12 months decreased slightly from last month, to 43 percent. • The share of respondents who say their household income is significantly higher than it was 12 months ago increased 2 percentage points to 24 percent. • At 36 percent, the share of respondents who say their household expenses are significantly higher than they were 12 months ago rose 4 percentage points from last month. © 2014 Florida Realtors® housing

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December 5th, 2013 9:25 AM
Foreclosures down – but not for high-end homes

IRVINE, Calif. – Dec. 4, 2013 – Overall U.S. foreclosure activity is down 23 percent year-to-date through October 2013, but foreclosure activity on homes in the $5 million-plus value range is up 61 percent from the same time period in 2012, according to RealtyTrac.
The total number of these ultra high-end properties with a foreclosure notice in 2013 is relatively miniscule – fewer than 200 compared to 1.2 million total properties in all value ranges with foreclosure notices this year – but each represents a much bigger potential loss for the foreclosing lender compared to a median priced home.
The trend doesn’t necessarily mean that more high-end homeowners are in financial trouble. According to RealtyTrac’s analysis, more lenders may now be financially stable enough to comfortably weather some big-ticket losses. In addition, a stronger housing market means even ultra high-end homes could attract more prospective buyers, allowing lenders to recoup more of their losses on the jumbo loans gone bad.
“A home selling for $5 million or above represents the ultra-luxury end of the market, and so far in 2013, we’ve had 34 properties close over that price with the average sale being $7.7 million,” says Emmett Laffey, CEO of Laffey Fine Home International, covering the five boroughs of New York. “Any foreclosure properties in this type of ultra-luxury market usually get purchased very quickly since there is one thing all super rich buyers want – an outstanding deal on a real estate transaction, and in most cases foreclosures of this magnitude come with several million more dollars of built-in value.”
The delayed rise in foreclosure activity on these high-end properties may not all be instigated by the lenders, however. Some of the homeowners may have had the means to hold out against foreclosure longer than other homeowners.

Florida high-end foreclosures

Florida and California together accounted for more than 60 percent of all ultra high-end foreclosure activity so far in 2013. In both states, a combination of a severe housing boom and bust over the past seven years along with a plethora of high-value coastal property, have resulted in relatively high numbers of high-end foreclosures – although high-end foreclosure activity in California was actually down compared to a year ago.

By metro area, South Florida (Miami-Dade through Pompano Beach) landed the No. 1 spot for high-end foreclosures with 47 properties in 2013 – a 488 percent increase since 2012. The Orlando-Kissimmee area ranked third with 12 high-end foreclosures – a 500 percent increase over 2012.
Because a listing price isn’t consistently available on properties in foreclosure, for the purposes of this analysis, RealtyTrac categorized properties into value ranges using three different data points available in its real estate database: estimated amount of outstanding loans on home; estimated market value; and assessed value from the tax assessor. If any of the three amounts was above $5 million, the property was included in the $5 million-plus category.

© 2013 Florida Realtors®


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September 23rd, 2013 4:28 PM
MIAMI (AP) – Sept. 23, 2013 – Thousands of Florida homeowners who owe far more on mortgages than their houses are worth could get a break of up to $50,000 if they qualify under a new state program, housing officials said Friday.

The Florida Housing Finance Corp. said people who meet eligibility requirements will be able to apply online for money to reduce mortgage principal beginning Wednesday under the $350 million plan. The program is restricted to homeowners whose mortgages are 125 percent or more than the current market value of their house, which is considered to be severely underwater on a mortgage.

The program, formally known as the Florida Hardest Hit Principal Reduction Program, also envisions that most affected mortgages will be refinanced or recast, reducing monthly payments.

“For those who qualify, this new program can help to reduce their principal balance, which can result in a lower monthly payment and put more money in their pockets,” said Steve Auger, Florida Housing’s executive director.

The online application process will begin at 9 a.m. on Wednesday at The unpaid balance of the mortgage cannot exceed $350,000.

Initially, the program will be restricted to 25,000 applications on a first-come, first-served basis but could be expanded, Auger said. The money is just a portion of the $1 billion Florida has received under a federal program aimed at states where housing suffered the most during the economic recession.

At least 200,000 underwater homeowners in Florida could probably qualify for the program, said David Westcott, director of home ownership programs at Florida Housing. Out of the 25,000 initial applications, Westcott said he expects about 10,000 homeowners will actually qualify for the money.

“You have to be severely underwater,” he said.

Among the other rules to qualify:

• Homeowners must be Florida residents and legal U.S. residents and must occupy the house as a primary residence.

• Total household income for everyone 18 and older living in the home cannot exceed 140 percent of the area’s median income.

• Mortgage payments must be current, and a payment cannot have been 60 or more days late in the past 24 months.

• The mortgage had to originate prior to Jan. 1, 2010.

The money will be provided in what’s called a forgivable loan. That means, depending on the type of loan, it will either be forgiven in 20 percent increments over a five-year period or forgiven in total at the end of five years.

If the house is sold before the five years are up, Westcott said the homeowner would be required to repay the remaining, unforgiven amount of the loan if there’s enough money from the sale to do so.

The housing agency has come under some criticism from U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., and others who say it has been slow to get money to homeowners who need it and has been poorly managed. A federal audit was begun earlier this year at Nelson’s request, although agency officials have said their management has been favorably reviewed by the U.S. Treasury Department and state regulators.

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August 27th, 2013 6:24 AM
WASHINGTON – Aug. 22, 2013 – U.S. house prices rose 7.7 percent in the year through June, extending a recovery that’s spurring more homeowners to list their properties for sale.

Prices climbed 0.7 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis from May, the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) said today in a report from Washington. The average economist estimate was for a 0.6 percent gain, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Price increases are drawing more sellers to a market where a tight supply of homes has pushed up values, said Paul Diggle, property economist at Capital Economics Ltd. in London. The inventory of unsold homes was a seasonally adjusted 5 months in June, up from 4.7 months in January, according to data from the National Association of Realtors.

“The current big gains in prices are temporary and they reflect the bounce from the bottom,” Diggle said in a telephone interview before the FHFA report. “They shouldn’t be expected to continue at that pace that much longer.”

Diggle’s firm projects that price gains will slow to 4 percent for 2014, down from 8 percent this year.

Higher mortgage rates may be encouraging buyers to complete deals before borrowing costs rise further. Sales of previously owned U.S. homes climbed 6.5 percent last month to the fastest pace since November 2009, the National Association of Realtors reported yesterday. The median price jumped to $213,500, up 13.7 percent from July 2012.

The FHFA’s report showed prices increased 17 percent from a year earlier in the Pacific area, which includes California and Washington. In the Mountain region, including Nevada and Arizona, the gain was 11 percent. The Middle Atlantic area – New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania – had the smallest increase, at 2.5 percent.

The FHFA index measures transactions for single-family properties financed with mortgages owned or securitized by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. It doesn’t provide a specific price for homes.

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Monthly mortgage payment almost 40% cheaper than 2006
Housing affordability improved dramatically because of declines in both prices and mortgage interest rates, according to David Stiff, chief economist at Fiserv Case-Shiller.

"The monthly mortgage payment for a median-priced single-family home is now $700, compared to $1,140 in 2006 — a decline of nearly 40%," he said in comments on the latest release from Fiserv.

The National Association of Realtors found a similar trend. On Wednesday, the trade group revealed that the median price on existing home sales fell in most of the 150 metropolitan areas surveyed by the organization in the third quarter.

Price declines and low mortgage rates have resulted in a ratio of monthly mortgage payments to median family income that is the lowest on record based on Fiserv analytics.

US Housing Affordability At All Time Low

"Housing affordability has improved dramatically because of declines in both prices and mortgage interest rates," said David Stiff, chief economist at Fiserv. "The monthly mortgage payment for a median-priced single-family home is now $700, compared to $1,140 in 2006 — a decline of nearly 40 percent. Nationally, purchase mortgage payments now account for only 13 percent of monthly median family income, the lowest percentage on record (since 1971), and compared to 23 percent in the first quarter of 2006."

Price declines and low mortgage rates have resulted in a ratio of monthly mortgage payments to median family income that is the lowest on record based on Fiserv analytics . (since 1971)

Although affordability has increased, Stiff said, housing demand remains depressed with existing home sales back to 1998 levels, with the average annual rate trending at 4.3 million units since June.

Sales of existing homes rose 7.7% in August despite tighter lending standards and appraisal problems.


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November 2nd, 2011 10:27 AM

New Refinance Program to Help More Floridians

During a recent gathering of real estate professionals, hosted by University of Miami Law School, discussions were centered on the long list of government initiatives aimed at fixing the housing market. The Home Affordable Modification Program, for example, has had a very minimal impact in Florida.

New initiatives, like the revamped Home Affordable Refinance Program is aimed at addressing some of the shortcomings of past efforts. The new HARP, announced last week by President Obama, will open up the government refinance initiative to people who owe significantly more on their mortgages than their properties are worth.

Mortgage lenders are also offering "relocation assistance" for homeowners who opt to sell their homes at a discounted price instead of going through the lengthy foreclosure process

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July 25th, 2010 9:54 PM

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Pinellas County Real Estate Market Statistics for May 2010:

Closings of single family homes in May matched the number in April and were 27.6% higher than

May 2009. The median price was down by 4.4% from the previous year. While listings were also

down 9.3%, the drop in inventory slowed compared to the first four months of 2010.

There was a 37.7% increase in condo sales from May 2009 to May 2010. The median price was

down 8.6% from last year. Condo listings were down by 13.8%

While some saw the fewer number of sales in May in comparison to April, year after year there have

been fewer condo sales when looking at month-to-month sales. On the other hand, single family sales

usually go up between April and May. This year they were even. Month-to-month comparisons

might be interesting, but they seldom represent a trend.

Pinellas Residential 10 May 09-May % Change

Total Property Sales 1,276 971 31.41%

Total Dollar Volume $232,300,200 $191,934,000 21.03%

Average Sales Price $182,100 $197,700 -7.89%

Median Sales Price $132,300 $140,000 -5.50%

Total Active Listings 11,645 13,144 -11.40%

Total Pending Listings 1,076 1,259 -14.54%

Month Supply of Inventory 9.9 15.4 -35.71%

Pinellas Single Family 10-May 09-May % Change

Total Property Sales 786 616 27.60%

Total Dollar Volume $144,959,800 $124,520,000 16.41%

Average Sales Price $184,400 $202,100 -8.76%

Median Sales Price $138,800 $145,000 -4.28%

Total Active Listings 6,270 6,910 -9.26%

Total Pending Listings 687 799 -14.02%

Month Supply of Inventory 8.1 12.7 -36.22%

Pinellas Condo 10-May 09-May % Change

Total Property Sales 489 355 37.75%

Total Dollar Volume $87,267,900 $67,414,000 29.45%

Average Sales Price $178,500 $189,900 -6.00%

Median Sales Price $118,800 $130,000 -8.62%

Total Active Listings 5,375 6,234 -13.78%

Total Pending Listings 388 460 -15.65%

Month Supply of Inventory 11.7 20.1 -41.79%



For more statistics, see Marketplace Statistics, Monthly Market Report and other reports on the

Statistics page.

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